AFTER 1989: Race After Multiculturalism

The '90s are back! Although they're being resurrected as the age of Cosby sweaters, animated gifs and 16-bit Nintendo soundtracks, the 1990s were stranger and more complex than youth culture nostalgia. As the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Cold War came to a close, the US found itself in the age of multiculturalism, premised on the belief we could all just get along, and a decade divided with tense, often surreal, racial spectacle. The Asian American Writers' Workshop presents an alternative racial history of the 1990s through a feisty five-part event series that's part symposium, part late night talk show, part Youtube nostalgia-fest.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Friday, March 16, 2012, 7PM
Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, 80 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, NY


Featuring: KAZEMBE BALAGUN (Brecht Forum), ELIZABETH MENDEZ BERRY (The Nation), JEFF CHANG (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop), HUA HSU (Grantland), HIRAM PEREZ (Vassar College), JAY SMOOTH (Ill Doctrine), SALAMISHAH TILLET (A Long Walk Home)

Exhibits: Family Matters, “We are Tiger Woods,” “Selling Out”

Two decades ago, Rodney King famously asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” The question might as well have served as the defining question of the multicultural moment, in which the US attempted to dream about what a pluralistic society would look like—from GOP Family Values to the black middle-class aplomb of Family Matters, whether in elite college admissions or Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hua Hsu (Grantland, The Atlantic Monthly) revisits the notion of “selling out,” that street cred-sapping compromising of authenticity that would be completely unintelligible to a contemporary artist. Kazembe Balagun (Brecht Forum) discusses Family Matters and black kitsch.  Hiram Perez (Vassar College) interprets the universal “Cablinasian” identity of Tiger Woods. Salamishah Tillet (UPenn, co-founder of A Long Walk Home) talks feminism and the legacy of Anita Hill. We conclude with a roundtable with cultural critic Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation), journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry (cited as an inspiration by Jay-Z) and DJ Jay Smooth (Ill Doctrine) to answer the decades-old question, “Why can’t we all just get along?”. The event takes place at MoCADA’s show, THE BOX THAT ROCKS: 30 Years of Video Music Box and the Rise of Hip Hop Music & Culture.

A project of The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, where we’re inventing the future of Asian American intellectual culture.

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